Monthly Archives: February 2011

Feb 25

Psychology Tips for Married People

By Dustin | Communication

Note: Enjoy this insightful guest post from Allison Gamble of PsychologyDegree.net.

In recent years, research has shown that the psychology and communication skills being taught in college courses are resulting in better marriages and a lower divorce rate. The overall divorce rate has declined to about 40 percent and the rate of divorce among college graduates is only 16 percent.

In fact, divorce rates have been slowly dropping since the seventies when psychologists developed rules for good communication between partners. These strategies for enhanced communication encouraged acceptance, honesty and appropriate methods of self-expression.

However, you don’t have to have a psychology degree or even take a psychology class to improve your marriage. All you have to know are the basic psychological causes of marital problems and then implement the appropriate communication styles to reason out your problems.

Develop Positive but Realistic Attitudes Toward Each Other

During the sixties, there was book called “I’m OK-You’re OK” that provided readers with relationship advice. While the book was helpful, the title itself is the golden rule of marriage. Both people in a marriage need to see themselves and their spouse as good people.

Thus each person needs be careful not to idealize their partner so much they can’t accept their partner’s humanity nor should they degrade the other person with false accusations. Finding a place of mutual acceptance can take time, but is rewarding once achieved.

Similarly, while everyone wishes things were great all the time, the reality is that something is bound to go wrong eventually. When this happens it is important for married couples not to try to establish fault.

Instead, they should concentrate their efforts on solving the problem. However, treating each other with respect, love and continued admiration can be difficult during stressful situations, especially if there are multiple external problems involving money, household repairs, in-laws and children. Yet no matter what happens, don’t let circumstances divide your marriage or undermine the team efforts between you and your spouse.

Create Positive Communication Experiences

The most important element in marriage is communication. There are all sorts of communication, and it is important to listen not only to words but also to the subtle and not so subtle forms of communication such as body language and tone of voice.

A lot of times people do not say what they mean at all. It isn’t that they are lying, they just may not want to admit when they are sad, troubled or even angry. Therefore, it is crucial that spouses pay attention to each other’s nonverbal messages so they are aware of when the other person is unhappy and can soften their speech and be careful not to injure the bruised emotions of the other person.

Finally, remember that timing is everything. Picking the right time to talk about something can make the difference between having one’s ideas well received and having them shot down. In general, wait for a person to get in the door and sit down for about 15 minutes before sharing bad news or introducing a new idea.

Ensure You Have a Balanced Lifestyle

Having balance is very important in life and in relationships. However, married couples often have different ideas of what balance is, which can lead to conflict.

While one partner feels like splitting household tasks is a fair division of chores, their spouse may feel overburdened. Similarly, while one person wants to relax all weekend after a long workweek, their partner may want to go out and do something fun and become frustrated when their other half does not.

The solution to this dilemma is compromise. Married couples must work together to ensure that each person feels respected and is still able to participate in activities they enjoy. This may mean each person will have to gradually adjust his or her schedule when necessary for better compatibility. However, adjusting to one another should be a fair trade. There is no reason why only one party should do all the adjusting.

Marriage can be very challenging. In fact, at times it can seem impossible, but the rewards are great for people who are willing to put in the effort.

Marriage can enrich life greatly if both parties are committed to each other, establish good for forms of communication and work to ensure their relationship is fair and balanced.

(photo source)
Feb 22

Disengaging from the Cell Phone to Re-Engage Your Family

By Dustin | Communication

This morning, I went through my normal wake up routine, which puts my cell phone in my hand within the first three steps of my feet hitting the floor.

This quick grab of the cell allows me to check my email on my way to the bathroom to handle the normal wake up stuff.

After leaving the bathroom, I head down stairs and jump back on my cell to check my favorite news sites. Once my wife and son wake up, I go back upstairs to greet my family with a kiss.

This is about the time that I begin playing with my son, as my wife now begins the routine of checking her important overnight emails and texts.

After hitting a few golf balls and kicking around the  soccer ball in the hallway or crashing around Matchbox cars on imaginary trips to the ice cream store, my son will ask to see my phone.

He will begin, at daddy’s insistence, with educational math and reading games. But eventually he will move over to daddy’s golf and racing games when he thinks no one is watching.

Where’s the Quiet Time?

This detailed recollection about my daily morning routine comes on the heels of my first thoughts as I lay in bed this morning staring at the ceiling:

  • Where has my time to just think to myself gone?
  • What happened to the early morning quiet time I used to enjoy with my wife?

And the answer is…

My quiet time and time for inner thoughts have gone the way of the busyness of life, largely fed by my technologically “wired” dependence. I estimate that on a typical day I will spend a collective 4-5 hours texting, tweeting, listening to music, making notes, updating my to-do list, gaming and occasionally actually talking on my phone.

Let me pause here for a second.  This post is not about how cell phones are ruining our lives or marriages because all of our phones have an on/off switch, and as of today they have not come up with an app that makes us involuntarily use them, against our will – as of today.

Rather, this is an examination of how cell phones and technology in general can be allowed to replace looking each other in the eye and having a meaningful conversation with our spouses – if we allow it.

It is an examination that begins within, as I am personally coming to a recognition that my wife and I spend more time engaging our smartphones than we do engaging each other.

It is a self-examination that leads me to declare it is time to make some changes. So here are some of the boundaries that I have identified to dis-engage from my cell and re-engage my wife in conversation.

How to Re-Engage with Your Spouse

Don’t Answer the Phone.

Like every family nowadays our entire family is ripping and running all day, every day. The only window of quiet time that we as a family can pretty routinely count on is Saturday morning.

To get the most of this small window of quiet time we do not accept phone calls on Saturday mornings before 10am. It is a small thing, but it gives the family at least one morning to lounge around and hang out together – uninterrupted.

No Cell Phone Zone.

We only take “necessary” calls when we are in the car together (hands-free of course). This is a little bit of a personal pet peeve. When we are in the car together, if one person is on the phone, then everyone else in the car becomes a hostage. The radio has to be turned down, the conversation that was occurring has to cease.

It is annoying – did I mention this is a pet peeve of mine. By not taking calls while we are in the car together, we gain a few minutes where we can talk about life or just enjoy the ride together.

Schedule Talk Time.

Find something to read together and block out some time to talk about it. Time may not permit you and your spouse to actually sit down and read together, but agree on what and how much you will read.

Then meet at the local coffee shop or go for a walk and talk about it. Just find a distraction free place and time to talk about what you have been reading and watch how the relationship and conversation flourishes.

Turn your cell phone on silent when you get home.

Unless you are on call, or you know an important call is coming at a specific time, try to turn your phone on silent when you leave work.

I have found that by doing this, my wife knows that regardless of whatever important things are going on, my family remains the most important. In addition, take inventory of how many of those missed calls actually did not require immediate attention anyway.

Don’t bring it to the dinner table.

As I confessed earlier, I am a heavy cell user. So I keep a charger at work and one at home. Recently, I have begun charging my phone while I eat dinner with my family or shoot hoops with my son. Not only does it recharge my phone, but it also ensures that when I spend time with my family, it remains their time and not borrowed time between phone calls.

These are just my personal parameters and suggestions.

But how about you Engaged Marriage family…how do you ensure that you remain more engaged with your spouse than with technology?

 

Edward C. Lee an Ordained Christian Minister, creator of the  Elevate Your Marriage blog and author of Husbands, Wives, God: Introducing the Marriages of the Bible to Your Marriage.

(photo source)

Feb 14

Relationship 911: The First Step That Resuscitated My Marriage

By Dustin | Time Management

Time management and finding quality time for your spouse are recurring themes here on Engaged Marriage for a reason…they are incredibly important! 

I first met Nina when she and her husband joined our initial test group and then became early success stories using the Thrive90 Fitness program over at Fit Marriage.  I knew they had taken the importance of recreational intimacy to heart, but it wasn’t until I read this guest post from Nina that I fully understood why.  Enjoy!

Almost three years ago, I had divorce papers filled out and was ready to walk out the door.

My husband was home once a week while he was pursuing his paramedic degree, and I was pregnant and taking care of our 3 small children by myself. Yes, that is a recipe for disaster.

After years of problems ranging from pornography addiction to adultery, we were through. There was no way to save our broken marriage.

Or so I thought.

In the midst of tears and prayers, God sent me words of wisdom through several different people, and I began making the effort to change myself. After 6 years of ineffective nagging, I realized that this was the only thing I hadn’t tried, so I decided to submit and serve. And that was the catalyst for where we are today.

Coming back from the brink of divorce isn’t easy, and it takes time to rebuild the trust that was broken. But it is possible. And what’s better, is that your marriage can become better than it ever was. Way better.

So how did we do it? Seek out a counselor? Nope. Did that once and my husband swore never again. We did something much simpler than that, something we should have been doing all along.

We started to spend more time together.

That may sound like a terribly simple solution to a huge problem, but it was exactly what we needed.

How to Recommit to Your Marriage

Here are a few ways we’ve been intentional about spending time together to recommit to our marriage:

Find a mutual hobby – After years of doing things separately or begrudgingly doing things together, we began to pick out activities that could be enjoyed together. Since we really did very little to begin with, we had a difficult time finding common ground.

So we took turns doing things the other enjoyed – with a good attitude – and were pleasantly surprised with how fun it was. Who knew that beer brewing could be so interesting?

Date often – We have four small children, so dating is a challenge unless we make it a priority. Taking turns planning our monthly outing has been a fun way to get in a number of different activities like hiking, snowshoeing, brewery touring or going to the symphony. It is a huge contrast to bickering in the car over what we do and then just ending up at the same old restaurant.

In addition to going out once a month, we also shoot for a mini-date once a week after the kids have gone to bed (we put them down early for “their” own good). Then we watch a movie we’ve both agreed on, play a game, snuggle and read or wash and rub each other’s feet. It’s simple and we love it.

Date intentionally – It’s easy to go out, sit in a dark movie theater, eat dinner with little talking and drive home in silence. I know because we used to do that.

That’s a no-no now and if we do see a movie, we go to our favorite pub that has a cheap movie theater where we can eat dinner at the same time while snuggled up on a cozy couch. It’s not uncommon for us to whisper smart remarks and delight in watching each other giggle at the movie. Ok, I’m the only one who giggles, but my husband tells me he loves to watch me do that. The point is that dating is now a way to have fun together and talk, and not just about the latest crazy things our kids did.

Does your marriage have to be on the brink of disaster to make an effort to enjoy each other more? No, definitely not. Any marriage will benefit from intentionally seeking out ways to have more fun together.

Don’t stress about planning the most awesome date the two of you have ever been on. Keep it simple. Have fun. And, most importantly, make the time to delight in your spouse.

(photo source)

Nina Nelson writes at Shalom Mama about building relationships, holistic health and mindful living. When she’s not chasing her four kids or hanging out with her husband, you can find her reading or drawing plans for the straw bale house they’ll have someday.

Feb 10

Should Spouses Add Each Other on Social Networking Sites?

By Dustin | Communication

Note: This guest post by Vanessa Jones asks some really interesting questions about how we use social media within our marriages.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

While social networking sites such as Facebook are designed to strengthen relationships among friends and loved ones, they are now slowly weakening them.

Studies show social networking sites are now the number one growing evidentiary support for divorce cases. According to a recent study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, social networking sites, particularly Facebook, are being used in court to show proof of cheating, most of which is linked to social media users who exchange flirty and sexual messages and photographs with old flames.

In fact, the survey suggests that one in every five divorce cases involve a social media site. More specifically, 66 percent of cases involve Facebook, about 15 percent involve MySpace and about only 5 percent involve Twitter. But while most would argue that falling out of love is the main reason for divorce and not a social networking site, should you avoid friending your spouse to steer clear of potential problems all together?

The quick answer would be…

If you have nothing to hide, then what’s the problem?

But research shows that even innocent parties can be accused of infidelity due to jealousy of seeing someone of the opposite sex post on their spouse’s wall. No matter if they trust their spouse and know deep down inside they are faithful, many still claim to double-guess themselves and develop unnecessary suspicions which will ultimately cause problems within a marriage.

But some who refuse to add their spouses on social networking sites to avoid unnecessary jealousy may still be accused of infidelity. Again, the unknowing alludes to the idea that you may be potentially hiding something.

The truth of the matter is that, aside from avoiding unnecessary jealousy, some people would rather not friend their spouse because they yearn to have something that is just his or her own individual thing. But some spouses cannot swallow this idea: isn’t marriage supposed to be about sharing everything, including what you post on a social media site?

For those who strive to retain some sort of individuality and crave to have something of their own, if you choose not to add your spouse, a good way to avoid problems and confirm trust is to allow your spouse to have your account information to all social media sites, including users names and passwords. This solution isn’t for everyone, but again if you have nothing to hide, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Another option would be to not hand your account information but to always access your social media site out in the open and, most importantly, in front of your spouse.

If you choose to add your spouse, it’s important that you use the site to fortify your relationship. A good way to do this is to occasionally publicize affection for one another by posting sweet nothings on each other’s walls and uploading and tagging photos of each other as a loving couple.

What do you think? Has social media had a positive or negative impact on your relationship?

 ___________________________

This guest post is contributed by Vanessa Jones, who writes on the topics of dating sites.  She welcomes your comments at her email: vanessa.jones42@gmail.com.

Feb 07

3 Easy Tips for Finding Time to Date Your Spouse

By Dustin | Time Management

3 Easy Tips for Finding Time to Date Your SpouseYou know a regular date night with your husband or wife is not only a great time, but it’s really key to enjoying a healthy relationship, right?

Well then, when was the last time you actually got away together for a few hours to enjoy some romance?

I’m not talking about dinner out with the kids, and it doesn’t count if you were with a group of friends either.

While both of those are excellent ways to spend an evening, you really need some quality time alone to focus on each other.

We Don’t Have Time

If you are anything like us, I bet the constraint that’s holding you back more than anything else is a lack of time.

We’re all so damn busy that it’s easy to jump from urgent task to urgent task, only to look up two months later and realize we haven’t had a single night out with our spouse.

Of course, some of this comes from being our own worst enemies and failing to manage our priorities properly.  Sometimes, we even waste a lot of time on frivolous things like watching television or playing games on our phones.

However, in most cases, I think our time constraints are legit.

I hear from so many in our community, and I know you are  hard workers with families that are hustling to make things happen, sometimes at the expense of your own time and intimacy.

Are You Looking for Some Fresh Date Ideas?

When we finally get time for a date, it's so easy to fall into the rut of "dinner and a movie." If you'd like some new, creative and FUN date ideas, you've gotta check out:

The Dating Divas Year of Dates Binder

But We Can Still Make It Happen

I have to admit that Bethany and I were struggling in this area again recently, so we made a plan to make sure we were making our date nights happen.

I want to share a few tips that we’ve learned in the hopes that it helps you find the time for some all-important romance in your marriage.

1. Schedule It

You should have a regular date time, and it must be on your calendars.  If you treat your dates as optional or “schedule” them after all of the “important” things are taken care, you will never have dates!

Seriously, your date time should be a high-priority appointment that is scheduled well in advance and doesn’t get trumped for anything short of an emergency.

If you value your marriage, realize that you NEED this time together.  Seriously.

2. Look Outside the Obvious

Our weekends are really busy, and our babysitter often has other commitments on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Our solution: we have date nights scheduled for every other Tuesday night.  It’s a set time that is much less likely to get interrupted.

Along these lines, you should look at some less conventional ways to spend alone time together that will work with your busy schedule:

  • Date during the day
  • Enjoy an at-home date night
  • Date in the morning with a standing coffee date
  • Work out together to combine fitness with recreational intimacy
  • Make another “required” event a great date.  For example, we were gone last weekend presenting at a marriage retreat.  And we used this time away from home to enjoy each other and found alone time amidst our other responsibilities.

3. Budget It

You better have a financial budget! When you do, it’s really helpful to include some money for dates as part of your budget.

This not only takes some of the financial pressure off, but it makes it an “official” household activity that you are planning for and taking seriously.

We’ve found that having a date night budget item to cover babysitting, entertainment and meals is really helpful in keeping our time out consistent and enjoyable.

If your budget won’t allow these expenses, you can simply plan for a less costly alternative (see at-home date nights above).

I hope these tips make it easier for you to find time for your spouse.  There’s really no better investment in your marriage than quality time spent together.

Your spouse is the love of your life. Sometimes, it takes a date to remind us of this fact. 

Are You Looking for Some Fresh Date Ideas?

When we finally get time for a date, it's so easy to fall into the rut of "dinner and a movie." If you'd like some new, creative and FUN date ideas, you've gotta check out:

The Dating Divas Year of Dates Binder

Feb 04

A Valentine’s Giveaway for Your Husband!

By Dustin | Romance

This post is for the ladies. 🙂

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  If you’re starting to think about what to get your man, the good folks at RomanticMarriages.com have offered to give away a very cool package of their products to one lucky winner here at Engaged Marriage.

They specialize in making it easy to have an unforgettable date night with your spouse at Valentines or anytime.

The Giveaway

Here is what you will win:

  • A Ten Month Membership to the Loving Wives Club (each kit comes with a date night card, thematic ideas and printables) – $29.99
  • An “Opposites Attract” Valentine’s Date Kit – $7.99
  • A Prince of Persian Passion Hot Date Kit for Three Nights of Fun and Frolic.  Perfect for your husband’s birthday or anniversary – $15.99
  • The total value of this giveaway is $54.00

Here is how you can enter to win:

Write a short entry in the comments below sharing why your husband “needs a little more lovin’” this Valentine’s Day.  Be sure to include your email address anonymously when you post your comment.  I’ll pick one lucky winner at noon CST on Tuesday, February 8th.  Romantic Marriages will email you your digital kits that day.

It’s that easy.  Go ahead and enter with your comment for your chance to win.

And even if you don’t care so much about winning, it’s always great to reflect on the goodness that our spouse’s represent to us and to share our love for them with community here at Engaged Marriage.

Feb 02

Natural Family Planning: The Creighton Model

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Note: This is a guest post from a researcher who is futhering the study of a particular type of Natural Family Planning.  There’s even a chance for you to take part in the study at the end of the post.  Enjoy!

Looking for a “greener” method for family planning? Tired of birth control pills? Ready to understand your body and cycle better? If you said yes to any of the above questions, then please read on!

Women have natural means to know when they are fertile and infertile. Specifically, by checking cervical secretions and charting the observations every day, a woman can take control and understand her cycle. This is called the Creighton Method, and it is even effective for women with abnormal menstrual cycles.

Trained practitioners at FertilityCare Centers (http://medicine.utah.edu/dfpm/Research/CEIBA/centers.htm) teach the method and help couples monitor the results of their charting. It is a safe and natural way to both achieve and prevent pregnancy.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out the following testimonial of Sarah from Missouri, a current participant in an international Creighton Model study:

“I had been on birth control since my teenage years because of issues with my menstrual cycle (irregular, heavy bleeding, unbearable cramping, mood swings, etc.) and I had seen a lot of the side effects it had on my body. As we began looking into it, we learned that using the Creighton Model would help me figure out some of my female issues as well as provide a way to avoid pregnancy.

I quickly realized that birth control was just a band-aid solution. Through learning to chart from a nurse (and having a good doctor), we would be able to figure out exactly where the issues stem from so we can fix it naturally rather than putting synthetic hormones into my body. My husband and I started learning the Creighton Model a few months before our wedding and it was not hard, it’s just a commitment. We always felt extremely supported!

We couldn’t be happier knowing that we are preventing pregnancy naturally and when the time comes for us to have children, we are confident that this model will help us achieve pregnancy just as easily as we were able to prevent it. Being a part of the CEIBA study is very important to us as well. We want to show others that Natural Family Planning is a healthy and effective way to avoid pregnancy.

We just wish that more people knew about it!”

If you are interested or you would like to learn more about the Creighton Model or the study, please visit http://medicine.utah.edu/dfpm/Research/CEIBA/index.htm, call 801-231-6434, or email us at ceibastudy@gmail.com.

You can also check us out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ceibastudy.

_______________________________________

This is a guest post from Kaitlin Carruth, BS, MPH(c). Kaitlin’s hobbies include swimming, rock climbing, and rowing. She is currently a student at the University of Utah and a proponent of the Creighton Model and natural family planning.